Father’s Day without a father
Father’s Day can be a day to celebrate the man who helped raise you, or it can be a source of dread, grief, sadness and anger. People have many different reasons for dreading Father’s Day. Perhaps your dad passed away, or you have an estranged or non-existent relationship with him. You dislike Father’s Day because it reminds you of what you don’t have and pulls up painful or traumatic memories that you would rather not remember.
It can feel very isolating to not have anything to celebrate when others around you are talking about their Father’s Day plans, making jokes and generally feeling good about the holiday. It’s painful to feel like no one around may understand what you’re going through, and may feel like you’re bringing others down if you talk about your feelings.
Below I’ve detailed a few ideas that have been of great help to my clients who have had trouble getting through Father’s Day in the past.
Reclaiming the day
The third Sunday of June is traditionally Father’s Day, but that doesn’t mean it can’t hold any other meaning to you. It can be very empowering to turn the day that fills you with dread into a day that fills you with hope. You can achieve this by making a plan to do something that brings you joy on that day. This can take the form of eating out at a favorite restaurant, getting a massage or manicure, going out with friends, taking a stroll in the park, or just watching your favorite movie with a delicious snack. By making the day something you’re looking forward to you are reclaiming the day as YOUR day, not Father’s Day.
Celebrating another father figure
You may not feel comfortable celebrating your father, or perhaps he’s not around to celebrate with you, but you may have someone who has filled the role of ‘father’ for you. This can be a friend, another parent or family member. Father’s Day can be a time for you to celebrate this person’s contributions to your growth and wellbeing. Perhaps you had a parent who took on the roles of both parents; now would be a great time to celebrate them.
Reach out to friends
Father’s Day can be a lonely time for you. While some people feel better embracing the loneliness and having a cathartic cry, others feel the need to be surrounded by friends or loved ones. Reach out to your friends and see who can do something with you, whether that’s hanging in and watching a movie or going out to take your mind off of what day it is.
Schedule with a therapist
Talking with a clinician can be very helpful on (or close to) the day you are dreading. A professional clinician can provide support and help you process feelings and thoughts around your father in a safe setting. They can provide insight, facilitate emotional growth and even brainstorm new ideas to help you cope with experiencing Father’s Day.
If you don’t yet have a therapist to help you through Father’s Day please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health therapists.